Villum Investigator Grant to Carsten Rahbek – University of Copenhagen

2 April 2019

Villum Investigator Grant to Carsten Rahbek

Biodiversity in Tropical Mountains

What determines geographical patterns of biodiversity? The role of tropical mountains and the causes of their extraordinary biological diversity.

Carsten Rahbek:

Life on Earth is diverse and exhibits striking patterns in distribution. Since the days of Humboldt, Wallace, and Darwin explaining biodiversity distributions has been a major focus of research but we still are unable to do so. Current hypotheses are especially challenged when it comes to explaining the extraordinarily high species diversity of mountain regions, particularly in the tropics, where the greatest biodiversity is found.

With the aim of elucidating some of the fundamental biological laws determining the geographical distribution of life on Earth, this project combines millions of data on the distribution and evolutionary history of tens of thousands of vertebrate species, with new field-collections in the Andes, new next-generation genomics data and data collected by satellite-tracking the movement of tropical birds.

With a temporal scope of >100,000 years and a spatial framework ranging from global patterns to local communities, the proposed research will combine data and process-based models to address three questions fundamental to understanding large-scale patterns of biodiversity:

This research program will answer three central questions relating to this challenge.

  • Why are tropical mountains so extraordinarily rich in species, compared to lowlands?
  • How can environmental conditions and evolutionary and ecological mechanisms and stochastic effects be brought together in spatially explicit, predictive models of biodiversity?
  • Using these models, what can we discover about a) species populations, b) range size, c) assemblages and d) the causes of geographical patterns in species richness across time and space?

Professor Carsten Rahbek has key research in biodiversity and how it relates to economy, climate and human health, holding three professor appointments in Denmark, UK and China with broad experience both globally, regionally and nationally in science-policy applied activities.

The Villum Investigator grants will be presented on Villum Foundation webpage Tuesday, 2nd of April, 2019

Information at Department of Biology webpage.